La Taberna de Pedro (and the Restaurante Vinoteca Garcia de la Navarra)

As I write this I should declare that Pedro, Luis and the guys at la Taberna de Pedro (and the Restaurante Vinoteca Garcia de la Navarra) are friends of mine. For years my apartment was six floors and eleven metres from their door, and for well over a decade the Taberna, in all its forms, has been one of my happiest places. So this is not an absolutely objective appraisal. But I assure you that every word is true.

First, the food is outstanding. The hallmark of Pedro is taking top quality produce and preparing it beautifully. And while most people talk about “produce” they are thinking top end, whereas for Pedro the obsession is from top to bottom, whether it is the mature and aged steaks and the outstanding fish and assorted sea creatures he proudly posts on facebook, to the chard, borage, tiny “teardrop” peas, artichokes, and runner beans that he cooks like no-one else I know. His pisto is outstanding (and I don’t say that just because I get given an extra egg) and his menestra is the best in Madrid but his callos and, above all, the lengua (veal’s tongue) are special. There is also great variety – the stuff that is off menu is always worth trying if you can (and I say if you can because on more than one occasion my order has been overruled by Pedro in the kitchen). Yesterday we had the chard, runner beans with scallops, pochas and callos and I could not fault any one of them.

Second, the wine list is equally top class. In fact yesterday was the first time I have seen the wine list in years – I nearly always take the recommendations of Luis – but just behold the magnificent two volume, 90 odd page effort, with no fewer than 45 sherries by the glass (and rancios and dorados de rueda for the fashion conscious). With yesterday’s callos we had the mighty Villapanés, but there are a number of wines on that list that I am going to have to come back for. There is no doubt, if it weren’t for the thousands of other wines, this place would be famous for its sherries.

And there are thousands of other wines – it is a staggeringly varied list with wines from all over Spain and around the world, verticals and classic old vintages, frankly everything the most demanding winelover could desire, kept up to date by the sommelier’s sommelier – Luis. The man is an absolute legend and excels at finding great value wines in accesible styles that you probably haven’t heard of, but even more impressively he seems oblivious to the crazes, fashions and trends and if he thinks the wine is right he will recommend something you had forgotten about and written off years ago.

The guys split their time between the two locales but if you want to be close to Pedro you should aim for the Taberna, whereas if you want the fully immersive Luis experience you want the Restaurante Vinoteca. By long tradition I am a more frequent visitor to the Taberna – I have known some of the staff there since they were teenagers after all – but Luis seems to have forgiven me so far (although he does make a point of mentioning it).

And that would be my final word. These are two top restaurants run by two brothers, each of them great guys and outstanding in their fields, that draw you in and make you feel part of the family. At least they did to me.

Don Pedro, Don Luis, see you on Monday!


La Antojá

Yet another one of the discoveries from my New Year’s search for new horizons and yet more evidence that madrileños have only themselves to blame if they can’t find a decent glass of wine.

La Antojá is a cosy little vinoteca/winestore and bar in Calle Palafox 1. I strongly approve both of the business model (loads of wines, to drink or takeaway) and the decor (loads of wines to look at) and on both fronts it reminded me of similar establishments I used to frequent during a brief stint in Rome. Has a nice list of wines by the glass including a pretty good selection of 11 sherries – and some good ones too – or for a modest thousand pesetas you can take any bottle of wine from the shelves and crack that if you prefer. (Or crafty looking beers, ciders, and other liquids.)

Food was pretty good too: I had some tasty, meaty, savoury callos with one of my favourite olorosos – the Gobernador itself. It was pretty good value and even the music was top class – when I was in there Thelonious Himself (a perfect accompaniment to callos and oloroso). My one criticism was that there was nowhere to hang my hat, but that, unfortunately, is an all too common problem these days.

All round a quality little joint and the sort of place that should be on everyone’s wine radar. My thanks to Matthew Desoutter who put me on to it with his list of wine haunts – will certainly be infesting this place from now on.


A very long overdue post about one of Madrid’s very top tables: Santceloni.

The restaurant doesn’t need any introduction from me – it is absolutely world class with a star line up of chef, maitre and sommelier all at the very top of their game – but I realized yesterday when rejigging the “Where to drink it” page of the blog that there was a glaring omission.

I last had dinner there last March and it was a fantastic night. As part of my training for the Vila Viniteca “Cata por Parejas” the brilliant sommelier David Robledo was kind enough to serve me everything blind. Not only that, but seeing me flagging after some early struggles with a South African Sauvignon Blanc and an Alsace Riesling, he was also kind enough to give me one of my very favourite wines, the Emilio Hidalgo Tresillo 1874 (if I had got that wrong it would have been time to withdraw from the cata).

In addition to that, and although the mission was to train for wines from all over the world, David saw me coming and we started the evening with a nice glass of the under-rated Cruz Vieja fino and he clearly has a lot of other wines from the region at his disposal (in particular, since then he has added significantly to the weapons at his disposal in the form of the fantastic Barajuelas).

In fact I am sure I am just barely scratching the surface: I have kept meaning to go back and ask for the wine list (I am too easily led) to double check and will do so as soon as I can. For the time being, you will have to take my word for it!


What passes for a light lunch in the land of undertheflor. If it is any consolation, I walked all the way there and all the way back – nearly half and hour each way from undertheflor inc. And it was well worth it – top bombing.

Kulto has been around for around two years and is yet another of Madrid’s growing legion of new Andalucian restaurants. It’s Andalucian cred is impeccable since it is the sister restaurant of Taberna Trasteo in Zahara de los Atunes, and while the decor is mainly new school tavern there is the off wooden tuna and the like to give you a clue.

As is my wont I took a pew at the bar and it was pretty comfortable – nice view over the kitchen where I could watch the crew beavering away, something I always find nice and relaxing. Also quality, snappy and friendly service – seem like a nice bunch of lads – and a youngish crowd in: not just for winelovers this. The bar was spacious with a few long tables but I meant to have a gander upstairs in the dining room before forgetting.

Nice little menu: always a good sign when you can’t decide what to have. After a couple of weeks of living pretty high on the hog I was determined to get away with just a quick sandwich but I was thwarted – when I saw the vietnamese/saam style tortillita de camarones (see above) I had to have one of them, and the manitas in red curry were also calling me (half portions allowed me to convince myself it wasn’t too bad). In fact the fusion stuff – which can be as grating as it is ubiquitous – was pretty nicely done I must say: the tortillita was original and the spicey thai sauce was a nice addition, while the red curry was perfect with the manitas.

And most pertinently given the mission of this blog it is a spot where you can get your sherry and manzanilla on. Not the longest list: there were about a dozen or so wines including the likes of la Callejuela, Gabriela and Las Botas, although I gather the list was a bit outdated (I gather this because two of the three wines I had were not on it) and I was told they were in the course of giving it an overhaul. Will be a good excuse to go back and see what they pick, although while they are looking at the sherries they might want to think about some Cadiz white and red wines – there was Vara y Pulgar but nothing else on a goodish list.

Cool spot with fun food and plentiful finos and manzanillas. Get in as they say.

Huevos, Urta and amontillados finos in Surtopia

Have been living it up a bit in these first couple of weeks of the year but in amongst the new discoveries I couldn’t wait to get back to Madrid’s original temple to all things Sanlucar, Surtopia, whose bar I duly propped up on the first day it reopened.

I have been many times over the years and have posted a fair few times on this blog, but it is always worth visiting again. The wine list is in continual evolution – quite aside from the outstanding list of sherries, manzanillas and white and red wines from the region they now also have a brilliantly priced list of grower champagnes. And the cooking seems just to get better and better too: it is now up there with the very best in Madrid.

On this visit there was no messing around: a bloody sherry, creamed eggs with tuna and a beautiful piece of Urta (the supreme fish of the Cadiz coast), washed down with two superb amontillado finos, El Fossi and El Tresillo.

Wonderful stuff and well worth a(nother) visit!

Taberna Palo Cortado

The answers you seek are in these pages: 13 pages with 212 wines by the glass or the bottle. And then the first one they gave me wasn’t on the list! In fact Paki told me she had just over 300 of what could in general be called “sherries”, not including the unfortified wines from the region, or the champagnes, red wines and the like from all over. There is no doubt that Taberna Palo Cortado (now at Espronceda 18, Madrid) is the finest selection of wines from Jerez, Sanlúcar, Chiclana, Trebujena, Pajarete, Montilla or Moriles anywhere in Madrid, and one of the best anywhere.

And then you add all the magnificent catas: in the last twelve months alone they have had Ramiro Ibañez, Jose Maria QuirosWilly Perez, Primitivo Collantesthe Blanco Brothers and Paola Medina, before that there were memorable nights with Toro Albala and Lustau, and next week they have the guys from Forlong.

And on top of that today I had an absolutely belting lunch: intended just to have a bowl of (delicious) stewed lentils but was tempted into a cheeky half portion of calamares and a small serving of Paki’s fantastic callos and garbanzos, washed down with a small matter of, ahem, five glasses (which when you think about it is less than 2% of the list, so in the circumstances seems only reasonable).

Honestly we are not worthy of such an establishment – I certainly am not – we should get in there before they realize!

Media Ración by Cuenllas

Another day, another cracking lunch in one of Madrid’s many great restaurants with excellent lists of sherries (and other wines). This time, Media Ración, the offshoot which legendary Madrid bistro Cuenllas was kind enough to open near my office in spring last year and which has been one of my happy places ever since.

It really has everything that a sherry blogger looks for in a watering hole. First, they have a well-rounded and continually updated selection of sherries  including in particular quality offerings from Equipo Navazos (La Bota de Palo Cortado 72, La Bota de Manzanilla 55 and la Bota de Manzanilla Pasada 59 to name just three), classics like Inocente (which is surprisingly hard to find),  Gabriela Oro, Manzanilla la Goya, the superb amontillado and oloroso from Tradición and other wines from Maestro Sierra, Delgado Zuleta, Fernando de Castilla and other top producers. Moreover, that offering is just part of an excellent selection of wines in general, with some quality international references in particular. In summary, noone is going to die of thirst here.

Second, and almost as important, the food is great. My favourites would probably be the callos, the soldaditos de pavia, the tosta de anguila ahumada and the Comte cheeseburger, and above all, the bacalao ajoarriero that I discovered this week (the best I have ever tried) but they also have an outstanding selection of charcuterie, conservas and cheeses, nutty, tangy bread from Panic. Great stuff from the point of view of a sherry fan:  it is almost as if someone were deliberately stacking up the pairing options. There is even a daily “bar-menu” for those days when you can’t be bothered to choose for yourself.

Third, and although it doesn’t generally feature very high on my list, the decor is also outstanding. It has a really smart, sheeshy bistro feel to it, making it one of those sherry temples that you can even take clients and family to if the need arises. And no concession made to comfort either: the bar is extremely comfortable with top quality stools and great sight lines.

And on top of all that, and probably most important of all, the service, from a young and charming crew, is just superbly friendly. Maybe I need more looking after than most but they certainly look after me. They even laugh at my jokes!

Really top drawer and highly recommended.